We had some great stories to report in 2013. BMX Racing is going in a positive direction, and everything that happened this year points to a bigger-and-badder year ahead in 2014.
We took some time, during our Christmas-week hiatus, to look back at every story we posted this year. BMX News brought the community hundreds-upon-hundreds of newsworthy stories, over 10,000 curated photos and 25-hours of podcast interviews. Our 2014 plan steps up that game considerably, and we are charging our batteries already for the season opener in Reno in two weeks.
Of all the stories we published in 2013, we picked the 12 that we felt were most important in the BMX Racing world (presented in chronological order. All links will open in a new window).
January 7 – Mike King Departs USA Cycling Post, Jamie Staff Takes Over
Mike had been at the helm of the USA Cycling BMX program since the dawning of the Olympic Era (2007), and took the decision with grace saying, in a farewell email to friends “I ultimately failed to bring home an Olympic medal for the United States in 2012. These are the harsh realities that come with this job and I want to wish my successor all the best leading up to 2016.”
On the same day, Jamie Staff assumed the new role of “Director of BMX,” and told BMX News “My sincerest thanks go out to Mike King for all the hard work, mentorship, friendship and direction he’s provided over the years. Mike’s tireless efforts and leadership have placed our US BMX program on an incredibly solid foundation from which to build upon.”
Two days later, Jamie was our guest on the Announcers Tower Podcast (link below), where he outlined his plans for Team USA in 2013, and beyond. A major accomplishment of the program in 2013 was Connor Fields’ win of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup title.
In October, Mike joined Vee Tire Co. as Tire Development Manager and Brand Ambassador.
Mike King Departs USA Cycling BMX Program
Jamie Staff to be USA Cycling “Director of BMX”
Podcast: New USA Cycling BMX Boss Jamie Staff
Mike King Joins Vee Tire Co
May 13 / August 13 – Live Streaming of Nationals
Following the 2011 demise of GO211, there had not been a solid provider for streaming USA BMX nationals. Tampa, FL based Health & Wellness Channel struck a deal with USA BMX in the spring, and by Albuquerque, we were enjoying the live coverage in our bunny slippers at home. Three months to the day after reporting the launch of the program, HWC suddenly pulled the plug, showing a “farewell” message to viewers immediately following the Buckeye Nationals coverage. USA BMX self-produced the Grand National streaming, via YouTube live, and it was a big hit with fans. We are optimistic that we may see more races streamed in the new year (though no official word on that).
Streaming To Return For USA BMX Nationals
HWC Mutes USA BMX Streaming
June 2 – Nashville Elite Walk-Out
On Day Three of the Music City Nationals in Nashville, the pros were angered by the fact that their checks for the previous two days did not match the published payout table USA BMX had published in the rulebook. USA BMX assured them it would be addressed in the days following the race, but the entire of Elite Men and Women’s classes walked off in a spectacle display along the fenceline, receiving high-fives from fans as they walked back to the pits (most thought it was a new “meet the fans” initiative, but word spread quickly, as USA BMX officials dropped a number of empty gates to make the race official).
It was a rare moment when all BMX racing pros stood together against the sanction, a display of solidarity which had not been seen at any point in the history of the sport. In the days following the race, all payments were made good to the riders, as was promised before the walk-out. Feelings on both sides were healing for the balance of the season.
Elites Take a Roll Out…And Keep Going
USA BMX Issues Statement on Elite Protest
June 6 – VSI Products Suspends BMX Program
Home to the top brands in BMX Racing for years, VSI Products, parent to Intense BMX, Speedco and Sinz announced they would be leaving the BMX market, as of June 30. Aside from being a major shock to the industry, this move left Elite riders Brian Kirkham, Arielle Martin, Dominique Daniels and Kory Cook without a sponsor in the middle of the season. Kirkham would announce his retirement after South Park, Dominique would continue in her Grand Canyon University jersey, aboard another frame, and Arielle and Kory would join Toby Henderson’s Promax brand for the balance of 2013. Arielle would also retire before the end of the season.
VSI Products to Suspend BMX Program June 30
July 18 – Death of Howie Cohen
“KuwaHowie,” as Bob Osborn once called him in BMX Action magazine was one of the most important figures in the early days of the BMX industry. His “Everything Bicycles” was one of the first, and definitely the most prominent BMX-centric wholesale distributor in the world at the time. Howie brought Kuwahara Bicycles to the United States, and worked with Steven Spielberg to put Elliott on a (Kuwahara) BMX Bike in the 1982 blockbuster “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Howie was an amazing person, and generous mentor to countless members of the BMX and bicycle industries. He was 74 years young.
Remembering Howie Cohen (1939-2013)
July 24 – Jay Fraga Podcast on Concussions
With the media coverage surrounding veteran NFL players coming forward to say they had been adversely affected by repeated hits to the head during their careers, many sports were taking a fresh look at how their athletes were affected as well. Jay Fraga from Massachusetts took the lead in investigating his own BMX-related concussions, following a series of injuries over the past several years. He appeared on our Announcers Tower Live show to talk about what he learned. Boston University is at the forefront of this research, and Jay has become our defacto expert on the topic. On October 8, the PBS series “Frontline” debuted a two-hour episode entitled “League of Denial,” documenting the NFL case.
Podcast: Jay Fraga on Concussions
PBS Frontline Episode: “League of Denial”
September 9 – 2020 Olympics Awarded to Tokyo
With the countdown-to-Rio clock already running, the International Olympic Committee set its sights on the 2020 Games, and awarded them to Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo hosted the 1964 games, and won the bid for a 21st century games over Madrid and Istanbul. The bid package included artist renderings of the BMX venue (above), and puts BMX Racing in the middle of the action, just as it was in London. With an on-going nuclear crisis following the April 2011 earthquake, critics have expressed concerns that Fukushima (less than 200 miles to the North) may pose a safety risk to the Tokyo Games.
2020 Olympic Games Awarded to Tokyo
October 2 – Arielle Martin Retires
One of the qualities that makes a great athlete–whether in BMX or otherwise–is “heart.” Arielle Martin is an athlete who has exhibited an incredible amount of heart in her career. An indefatigable competitor, AMV15 suffered injuries which kept her out of the 2008 Olympics. Then in 2012– after earning a spot on the London 2012 team, she was struck-down by a life-threatening crash just hours before leaving for London. Still, she came back. After recovering from her September 2012 injury, Arielle was back on the bike in time for the Winter Nationals. The Podcast we recorded with her in October covers all her reasons for retiring after the last Supercross race of 2013, and is worth another listen. Today, Arielle is a big part of the USA Cycling BMX coaching staff, and we will be hearing more from her, in her new role, very soon.
Arielle Martin on Retirement/What’s Next
November 12 – $125K Payout for the 2013 Grands
The 2013 USA BMX Grand National would be the richest-cash weekend in the history of BMX Racing. The AA Pro champ would hoist a $20,000 check, with the top Pro Women taking home $5,000. Sam Willoughby and Mariana Pajon would be the recipients of the top-title prize money.
$125K Payday Awaits Pros in Tulsa
November 30 – Sam Willoughby Caps-Off a Tremendous Season
With an astonishing 20 AA Pro wins, 13 of which were consecutive, Sam Willoughby was the absolute ruler of the top class in 2013. This was Sam’s third title in four years, and we’re sure he is getting ready to make a run at title #4, which would tie him with legends Pete Loncarevich and Gary Ellis for most ABA/USA BMX titles won.
November 30 / December 1 – Largest BMX Race Ever
When motos were posted at the hotel, after the Friday night Race Of Champions was over, word spread fast that the 2013 USA BMX Grand National would be the largest BMX race of all time–at 712 motos and approximately 4,040 entries. The USA BMX crew ran the race with Swiss-watch precision, and had us out of the building by 3:30PM on day one (for the first round), and just shy of 9:30PM on Sunday. Some predicted Sunday would go as late as 1AM.
December 17 – Stay to Save
Just prior to the Christmas break, USA BMX announced that the long-standing $5 per class pre-registration discount would be replaced in 2014 by a $5 per class discount for staying at USA BMX host hotels. The initiative, dubbed “Stay To Save” would also bring with it a new online booking capability. In our story, BMX News did a “Quick Check” on the new system, and found that riders racing one bike for two days in Reno, as one example, would save $34 by booking through the Stay To Save program. Still, there was major outcry from families who camp, or prefer to stay at other-than-host-hotels.
Closer Look: USA BMX “Stay To Save” Program
As we end 2013, we would like to thank all of you who have made the work involved in writing, and shooting, and planning, and recording content for this website worth every second of it. We greatly appreciate the messages of support throughout the year, and the personal interaction we enjoy with so many of you at the races.
We also want to offer sincere thanks to all of our advertisers for making what we bring to the BMX Racing community possible. Without all of you, our coverage would not be possible. We emphasize that to everyone reading, and encourage you to support those who support our efforts.
We wish all of you a happy, safe and prosperous New Year, in your BMX endeavors, and otherwise.